Everybody has a favorite spirit whether it be vodka, gin, or whiskey. Spirits can be sipped straight or mixed into a cocktail. No matter how you choose to enjoy your favorite spirit, they all have something in common- they were made in a distillery.
In essence, a distillery is an establishment where the distillation of alcoholic spirits takes place. Distillation is the act of purifying a liquid substance via patterns of heating and cooling. In terms of alcohol, the distillation process makes the final product drinkable.
When you visit a distillery, you hang out in a cool atmosphere, try some tasty spirits, and you can even see how they are made. Most distilleries offer tours for curious visitors. Here is what happens on a distillery tour and what you should expect.
There is no fancy definition for a distillery tour other than it being a tour of a specific distillery. It allows visitors to have a behind-the-scenes look at how their favorite spirit is made.
The tour is conducted by a distillery employee who has extensive knowledge of how the entire process works. They walk you through all the steps of the distilling process from start to finish.
First, you will get to see the fermentation tanks. The fermentation process is crucial to the production of aromas and flavors in the final product. This occurs when yeast is introduced to feed off of the sugars. Fermentation typically lasts for three to five days, but some distillers may do so for as long as nine days.
Next, you will see all of the distillation machinery. Once the liquid is finished fermenting, it is heated to its boiling point in a vessel made of either copper or stainless steel. The vapors are then captured, cooled, and recondensed back into a liquid.
Many spirits are distilled multiple times. The more they are distilled, the smoother their flavor will be.
If you’re lucky, you may have the chance to see the bottling equipment running. This is when the final product is poured into bottles, sealed, and sent on its way for you to enjoy.
Heating liquids up to their boiling point will make the distilling room feel quite warm. It is acceptable to wear casual, comfortable clothing on the tour, but you may want to dress in layers. You can take off your jacket or sweater if it gets too warm. It also is not a bad idea to wear close-toed shoes since you will be around heavy machinery.
Your tour guide is there to educate you, so don’t be afraid to ask any questions you might have! Learning about your favorite spirit is supposed to be a fun experience.
Now that you know how spirits are made, go ahead and try some! You will have a much greater appreciation for the labor it takes to make it. Sign up for a tour of Spirit Works Distillery today, Cheers!